Take a Ride on The All-New Art Deco Orient Express
In an effort to provide modern conveniences to the iconic train, French architect Maxime d'Angeac reimagined it as a 1920s-inspired design.
The Orient Express is one of the most well-known trains in the world, both internationally and historically. Its design helped define a period's notion of luxury aesthetics by serving as a luxurious passageway from east to west. In the near future, a newly reimagined take on the Orient Express will offer a chance to restore rail travel to its golden age, even though trains of today are more functional and less fancy than they were a century ago.
This iconic train is being reimagined for the new era of luxury with a world premiere with an immersive exhibition. It is a tribute to one of the most iconic transportation designs of all time.
As part of the contract with ACCOR, the project was commissioned. After a protracted negotiation process, Orient Express took possession of the train in July 2018, when French architect Maxime d'Angeac, who has worked with fashion houses like Hermès and restored Maison Guerlain on the Champs-Élysées, began work on restoring the train.
For d'Angeac, reviving that train's look and feel wasn't just about preserving its signature aesthetic, but also fostering a dialogue with the 100 years since its creation. “From [the project’s] framework, a decor emerged—one without a defined era, instead inspired by Art Deco, Empire, and contemporary styles,” explains d'Angeac. “The train’s history has been rewritten, this time transcending trends. Nothing is superfluous—each detail has meaning.”
To keep his promise, d'Angeac has come up with a design that's packed with spectacular details, from the bar and dining cars to the suites and corridors. Suzanne Lalique's railroad motif, pioneered in the 1930's, is especially revered by d'Angeac because of its connection to today's aesthetics. From the wood and leather partitions to the dining car design elements that reference Lalique's tapestries, d'Angeac's design reveals Lalique's influence.
A number of Art Deco details can be found on the new Orient Express along its journey to Istanbul, which is perhaps even more remarkable. Among them are original Lalique lamps and panels, Morrison and Nelson marquetry, and original Lalique lamps and panels. It is d'Angeac's opinion that the latter design element is especially ripe for a comeback now, despite its age.
“The warmth and strength of the wood itself are timeless, and are a critical design element of the trains from the 1920s that can still bring a modern and refined touch in the present day,” the architect told Rich Report. “The treatment of the wooden details allow us to marry the past to the present, presenting a refined, warm, and truly luxurious atmosphere for future Orient Express train travelers.”
By using subtle, smart ways to create shifts in the decor, d'Angeac strives to recreate "the great transformation" of the space from day to night in his design. Furthermore, he describes the period as "a period that brought an entire generation of new theoretical and practical ideas for architects and designers of the time" and invokes the legacy of the French Union of Modern Artists.
During Paris's contemporary art week, Domus Maubourg offers a glimpse of the Orient Express' aura, but Design Miami offers the same experience. In 2024, just in time for the Summer Olympics in Paris, the newly rechristened Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express will start transporting passengers again. Is it possible to revive luxury rail travel in the present with an updated Orient Express? We will have to wait and see.
This is one of those cases where both the journey and the destination are equally captivating.